DOCSIS 3.1 Modems: What’s the Hype? Are They Worth Your Money?

4096 QAM, LDPC encoding, support of QoS, and 10 gigabits per second! These may be some of the fancy terms your cable company threw at you in their advertisement about their new DOCSIS 3.1 modem – the one that you REALLY need. 

But do you really?

What Exactly Are DOCSIS Modems?

Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification. If you’re the average internet user, these 6 words in that particular order make absolutely no sense but it is the full-form of DOCSIS – an international telecommunications standard that’s great for adding more speed to your cable TV system. 

Basically, you get to use your existing TV cable connection for MUCH faster Internet, voice, and video services. In order to actually make use of the “blazing fast” internet speeds, you’ll need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem. But you won’t get speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second just by getting a DOCSIS 3.1 modem, you’ll also need an Internet Service Provider that provides those high speeds. 

In 2019, a lot of the bigger ISPs like Comcast, Cox, and Spectrum provide high-speed internet which you may not be able to use because of your current modem, making an upgrade to a DOCSIS 3.1 gigabit modem worthwhile. 

How Fast Are DOCSIS Modems?

ISPs and tech enthusiasts are absolutely raving about their 10 Gbps internet connection everywhere, but exactly how fast is a 10 gigabit connection?

Let’s use some quick math to put this speed into perspective.

10 gigabits / 8 = 1.25 gigabytes or 1.25GB/s (which is the more commonly used unit).

Your average 21-minute 4K video is about 7.8 GB so it will you take you just 6.3 seconds to stream an entire 4K Ultra HD episode of The Office. 

Theoretically. It will theoretically take you 6.3 seconds to download a 4K episode of The Office with a DOCSIS 3.1 modem running at full tilt in perfect conditions. But what about in not-so-perfect conditions? 

So what kind of speeds can a DOCSIS modem achieve when it’s under the pressure to perform?

Real-World Benefits Of A DOCSIS 3.1 Modem

There are a lot of uncontrollable factors between a gigabit internet connection and you. In fact, NetApp actually calculated the real-world or a more practical speed you can expect from 10-gigabit per second connection (after taking into consideration all of those uncontrollable factors).

They came up with a more realistic speed of 987 megabits per second. 

To be fair, it’s still REALLY FAST. And, there are plenty of real-world benefits of such a gigabit internet connection. Like:

  • HD Streaming On Multiple Devices: Now everyone in your house can watch different movies on Netflix. At the same time. And without buffering, of course.
  • Better Gaming Experience: DOCSIS 3.1 uses a new technology called Active Queue Management which significantly reduces network lag which means lower latency/ping. 
  • Streaming While Gaming: If you like to stream while playing video games, you’ll want as much bandwidth as possible. And in our research, 10 gigabits of bandwidth takes care of that pretty easily.
  • Business Benefits: It’s not just about entertainment. If your employees rely on a fast and responsive internet connection, investing in a DOCSIS 3.1 modem and a gigabit plan could save you a lot of money in increased productivity. There will also be less of those moments during video conferencing when everyone speaks at the same time after freezing for a second.

So there you have it. The answer to your “Do I need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem?”. Actually, there’s one more thing.

DOCSIS is a technology that gets upgraded every once in a while and chances are, you already own a DOCSIS modem. Albeit, an older generation with slower speeds. Here are all of the DOCSIS iterations in a nutshell. 

DOCSIS RELEASE

MAX DOWNLOAD

MAX UPLOAD

DOCSIS 1

40 Mbps

10 Mbps

DOCSIS 1.1

40 Mbps

10 Mbps

DOCSIS 2

40 Mbps

30 Mbps

DOCSIS 3

1.2 Gbps

200 Mbps

DOCSIS 3.1

10 Gbps

1 Gbps

DOCSIS 3.1 Full Duplex

10 Gbps

10 Gbps

Source: highspeedexperts.com

So now you know that you want to upgrade and buy a DOCSIS 3.1 modem. Great, now all you have to do is pick the right DOCSIS 3.1 modem for you.

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